“Men are cannon fodder, women are man fodder. Yet rape in war wields as much destruction as guns do,” a reality expressed in horrific detail by Christina Lamb in her new book, Our Bodies, Their Battlefields: War Through the Lives of Women.

Rape is . . .

Rape is femicide, leaving dead women walking.  Rape is genocide since the act of sexual violence is committed with intent to destroy.  Rape is a war crime, a crime against humanity.  Rape is a weapon of war and should be banned like cluster bombs and chemical weapons.

Rape instills terror; therefore, a rapist is a terrorist.

Since domestic violence happens in the home, when a man rapes a woman, child or another man who lives in the same house, town or state, then the rapist is a Domestic Terrorist, right?  

1 in 3 women experience sexual violence in their lifetime, so why is rape the least reported crime?

Maybe it’s because 1 in 3 college men would rape a woman if they knew they could get away with it. And men are the judges, cops, and soldiers around the world who don’t believe women. Especially an educated woman "who probably asked for it." 

Why do men force themselves on women but are unable to view their actions as sexual violence? Simply, because we can and because force has worked for everything else in our lives. And because the adrenaline created during sex feels the same as when we’re fighting. Like Jane’s Addiction told us 30 years ago, “Sex is violent!”   

Rape is also called sexual assault and sexual violence but maybe the idea of sex needs to be completely removed from that act of destruction. Rape is a tool to demoralize and shame an entire population, an entire gender. Rape is about control and power.

“To rape” in Latin is rapere and means “to steal, seize or carry away”.  A person’s body is left intact but their will to live is stolen. As one perpetrator told a woman in Lamb’s book, “I don’t need to kill you, you’ll die later. Slowly over the years.”

Susan Brownmiller wrote, “Rape is intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.”  Perhaps the threat of violence, and thus sexual violence, is a condition of masculinity.

Thankfully, the author offers hope by detailing three ways survivors all over the world have learned to regain control after their devastating experience:

Art therapy, yoga & mindful meditation, and farming. Survivors of rape have discovered that horticultural therapy, specifically farming and working with the earth, provides nature’s method of healing. To grow something outside of themselves, when they have been destroyed inside, is a way to re-connect with Mother Nature. Also, by selling the vegetables or flowers creates economic power and thus the ability to regain control.

These survivors have learned to turn pain into power. And power into planting.

When listening to a survivor of rape, one should not be like the journalists who are like “vultures feasting on their misery.”  While listening to incidents of rape, the end of the story is NEVER the end of the story. Survivors don’t need to be retraumatized by questions, they need hope that when they close their eyes at night, the visions of violence and the pain of sexual assault will subside over time. They need to believe that intimacy may someday be possible. 

Page 237 drops a bomb -- Eve Ensler, known as V, playwright of The Vagina Monologues and founder of international V-Day (“because V stands for victory, Valentine and vagina”) is quoted:

“I’ve been working on sexual violence all these years. I’m wondering where the men are? This isn’t our issue, we don’t rape ourselves. It’s a men’s issue.”

BOOM, there it is!

Rape is a men’s issue.

When talking about rape during war, men will always say, “It has always happened” in the same way they rationalize slavery in America as “Well, the Africans were doing it before us.” Which for them makes both slavery and sexual slavery (rape) both equitable and normal, therefore acceptable. Rape is viewed as “the spoils of war”.

Rape is a men’s issue. The perpetrators are men so why does society not impose the shame and stigma that has traditionally been branded on survivors?  Why do women have to take self-defense classes and suffer the stigma of being victimized when it is men who should be teaching boys to respect, and not prey upon, women. Do they not have daughters, sisters, mothers and wives?

Struggling through this book (after throwing up then throwing the book across the room many times!), I’ve learned how to answer a question that many people asked me when I volunteered at the local rape crisis center.  

 “Why are you as a man involved?”

As the director of PSVI said, “These crimes, rape and sexual violence, are committed almost exclusively by men, how can they be solved without the leadership of men? If you are 99% of the problem you have to be 50% of the solution.” 

Now, when I'm asked why men should do something about the prevalence of rape in this world, it's not because they might have daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. Not because rape is morally abhorrent, which it most certainly is, but rather this:  

Rape is committed by men. If you are the whole problem, then you have to be at least half of the solution.

This book I had to read just as Christina Lamb had to write it. For if the stories of these survivors are silenced, then we are all complicit in terror.